Bottoms Up: 2008-2009 Finale

Only two weeks left of class, and for other seniors including myself, of our college careers. The bittersweet aroma of nostalgia hanging heavy in the air has forced me to face some very grave and serious questions: Have I fully exploited all alcohol resources? With so little time, I felt it not only necessary, but also my duty, to push myself to the limits of hooch-dom in and around the Williamstown area in search of whatever is out there, if anything still remains undiscovered. My existential quest to discover the imbibing experiences that I may or may not already know about took me to some interesting and unexpected places, some I’d never been to before, others that I had seldom visited and at least one place that I never plan on going to again. With so little time and so much to drink, I hope the following consortium of local, not-very-well-known great spirits will prove incendiary, to say the least, leaving you curious and excited to explore for yourself the whimsical world of alcohol reviewing and consumption.

This past Friday night proved to be as unique and invigorating as any night I’ve ever had at Williams. Since the discontinuation of Sparks, I have reached beyond the orange demon, as I call it, to more multicolored pastures. Joose (pronounced juice) is another great energy-efficient beverage. The tasty concoction comes in 22-ounce cans, and contains a hefty alcohol by volume percentage – just a shade under 10 percent. One-upping Sparks in almost every category, Joose even comes in multiple flavors: orange, green, purple, red and blue-ish. Oddly enough, they taste how they sound, and that’s not a bad thing. Filled with sugar, guarana and taurine, I can’t imagine this drink is good for you at all, but its tastiness and bright colors whisk you back to elementary school days when overly sugared drinks and candies gave you immaculate rushes that sent you running rampant around the jungle gym. When I warn you about this drink, listen to what I say. Unlike Pringles, once you pop, the fun can stop, suddenly and violently. Keep the blood sugar elevated, and don’t have more than one-and-a-half Jooses; if you obey, all should be OK.

Sufficiently roused by my Joose experience, I was convinced to go to MASS MoCA for a Salsa soiree by my friend and long-time life-mate, Kenny Flax ’09, who said a bunch of things, of which I remember a couple phrases, namely: Café Latino, live-jazz and most-importantly, mojitos. Being from Miami, I am a bit particular about any Cuban food and/or drink I encounter. I must say, while I find the food at Café Latino to be underwhelmingly authentic, the drink and atmosphere are spot-on. Anyone can throw together rum, sprite and limeade and call it a mojito, but those same people would probably take a baby banana, throw it into the microwave and call it a fried plantain, or worse yet, think that the Bay of Pigs Invasion was an early effort at controlling the recent swine flu situation. The Café Latino mojitos, on the other hand, were done right: mint leaves and lime ground up into a highball glass with just the right amount of white rum, sugar and soda water to bring out the sweet and sour contrast that makes the drink so refreshing and tasty. As the jazz roared on, the mojitos flowed like the currents of the Atlantic separating Cuba from the mainland U.S. However, much like the political situation between the two nations since old Fidel came to power, our trade with the bartender was eventually halted. Café Latino put an embargo on our mojito purchases, claiming that they had run out of materials to make the delicious cocktail. Ruminations of corruption begin to pervade the bar area, but we decided to leave before the coup.

While at Café Latino, I ran into one Josh Carter of my dearest Spirit Shoppe. My friends and I were most obliged, and we set out to continue our exploration of North Adams. Once the mojitos were gone and the band began to pack up, Mr. Carter amicably suggested we return to his abode for a nightcap. Once we arrived, Carter whipped out a funny looking bottle, just recently arrived for sale at the Spirit Shoppe. Its name, Rumjumbie, is as exotic and different as its appearance and taste. Though it is a rum-based fusion liqueur, the Rumjumbie transcends classification, though if I had to try, I would say that it most closely resembles a more sweetened cherry-flavored cough syrup. Its brownish-red color intrigues the eye, and its bittersweet flavor both lightens and warms the body. About a shot and a half of the Rumjumbie was pretty much all I needed to be ready for bed, and by then, it had somehow already become 3 a.m., so we said our goodbyes and made the long hike back to Williamstown.

I woke up relatively late the next day and was completely bombarded by the fact that the Kentucky Derby was set to begin in a few short hours. With no Derby parties to attend, I watched the pre-race coverage and made myself the most southern drink I could find: Jeremiah Weed’s Sweet Tea Vodka. Though Weed prides himself on his bourbon, the sweet tea vodka is truly a treat. It literally tastes like sweet tea with the slightest hint of vodka in the aftertaste. Mixed with ice and some lemonade, this drink made me feel like I was there cheering Mine That Bird as it cashed in on its 50-1 odds. This is a unique vodka blend that is definitely worth trying, especially if you like sweet tea and southern delectables.

Thus concludes my article, now and forever. I hope you learned some things – I know I did. I would just like to conclude by saying: It’s not what you drink or how you drink, but who you drink with that’s important. This past year, I have been honored to metaphorically drink with all of you. Until next time, bottoms up!